Republicans Outnumbered in Academia, Studies Find

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That's the startling headline in today's New York Times. I mean, who knew?

Most flagrant example of self-righteous leftist intellectual dishonesty:

"The essence of a great university is developing and sharing new knowledge as well as questioning old dogma," Dr. [Robert] Birgeneau, [U.C. Berkeley's chancellor] said. "We do this in an environment which prizes academic freedom and freedom of expression. These principles are respected by all of our faculty at U.C. Berkeley, no matter what their personal politics are."

Yeah, right.

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  1. We’re talking about people with advanced degrees, who spend their lives pursuing the truth.

    Is it really that suprising that this group of people are less likely to believe in homophobia, Divine Right of Presidents, and voodoo economics? Admittedly, there are Republicans who don’t believe in these things either, but they certainly are a minority in that party.

    Equally shocking headline – atheists under-represented in divinity schools.

  2. It’s the “questioning old dogma” part that gives it away. By (Liberal) definition, Conservatives support old dogma and thus are out of place in an academic setting.

  3. What does it mean to “believe in homophobia”?

  4. joe, you’re telling me that a conservative professor who believed in gun rights, was anti-abortion, and favored the Iraq invasion (or any combination of the above, or any number of non-leftist stances) wouldn’t be shunned at the university level? Oh please…

  5. joe-

    I agree 100% that conservatives subscribe to some pretty wacky notions and I’m very glad that academics have seen through those notion.

    I just wish that more of them could also see through the wacky notions espoused by the left.

  6. Oh, to defend academics somewhat, I’m wrapping up my Ph.D in physics, and at no point have my libertarian ideas (which I frequently bring up when we talk politics at lunch in my lab) gotten me into any trouble. Admittedly, I’m not in the humanities or social sciences, and it is undoubtedly different there, but worth keeping in mind that large areas of campus are “free thought zones.”

    Also, I minored in econ as an undergrad. Although most of my professors didn’t seem to be purist libertarians, they were certainly far more conservative on economics than your typical stereotypes of academics. Where they differed from libertarian purists they generally favored some sort of wonkish proposal that tried to meld regulation with market forces.

  7. It’s funny how well the first comment on the list proved the point of the post. The arrogance some display in situations like this is simply astounding, and it’s usually followed by an accusation of arrogance on someone else’s part.

    “We’re more advanced and intelligent!! If they knew more, they’d think just like us!”

    “Bush is an arrogant unilateralist!!”

    There you have it.

  8. MP, it is entirely possible that reason-based, nonprejudiced scholars with strong commitments to academic quality and the pursuit of truth are discriminated against and some universities for holding political viewpoints that have nothing to do with their ability to serve as good professors.

    But does the description I wrote in the above paragraph look like a good definition of “Republican” to you? The majority wing of that party is anti-science, supports discrimination against gay people, and holds other beliefs that are immicible with academic rigor and the provision of a quality education experience to all students. Of course there are exception, probably a lot of them. But if you lined up 100 Republicans and 100 Democrats, and eliminated everyone whose beliefs interfere with free inquiry and academic quality, you’d end up with more Democrats remaining than Republicans.

    If you tell everyone who’d rather work in the business world to step out of line, you’d end up with even more of an imbalance in favor of Democrats.

    So if the pool of qualified, appropriate, and available candidates yield more people on the left than on the right, it’s not surprising that those hired would include more lefties than righties.

    Attributing the entire disparity to mean old liberals discriminating for no good reason plays well with the permanently persecuted right, but it doesn’t explain what’s actually happening.

  9. Matthew, the fact that the truth is unpleasant to you doesn’t make it untrue.

    People who reject evolution shouldn’t be hired to each biology. People who are uncomfortable with women or minorities as their equals or bosses shouldn’t be hired to teach anything. People who can’t be trusted to be fair and decent to gay or Muslim or weird-dressing students and colleagues shouldn’t be hired by universities. Do you disagree?

    While these statements certainly don’t describe all Republicans, such disqualifications are more common among Republicans than Democrats, which tilts the potential hiring pool.

  10. The majority wing of that party is anti-science…

    Actually, being anti-science doesn’t disqualify one from teaching at a university. Just read some of the efforts to “deconstruct” science and you’ll see what I mean. They go way beyond pointing out important things like “bias can cloud the interpretation of results” (always a good thing to keep in mind) and suggest that modern science is basically nonsense.

  11. thoreau-

    “at no point have my libertarian ideas (which I frequently bring up when we talk politics at lunch in my lab) gotten me into any trouble.”

    I’m in my 4th year of a PhD in theoretical chemistry. My lab is piled full of Europeans and Canadians. I’ve been accused of hating the poor, minorities, the handicapped, being selfish, and a gun nut. All this from simply advocating a small federal government and the right of self defense.

    joe-

    The left doesn’t just stand against all the stupid shit the right stands for. Take off those rose colored glasses.

  12. “I’m glad to get the liberal perspective, but it would be nice to get the other side, too,” said Kelly Coyne, the editor of the magazine and a senior majoring in political science. “I’m really having a hard time finding courses my last year. I don’t want to spend another semester listening to lectures about victims of American oppression.”

    What?s the matter with this girl? Doesn?t she realize that America IS the cause of all oppression in the world?

    What a kook!!

  13. pigwiggle-

    Your lab? You theorists don’t have labs, you have offices! ;->

    Seriously, though, I’ve gotten into arguments with some people, but nobody has ever let it get in the way of work and neither have I. I’ve never gotten a bad grade, a bad evaluation, or a refusal on a request for research help simply because of my politics. I have enjoyed good relations with my colleagues. If I were to be really obnoxious about my politics my colleagues would probably shun me. Then again, if I got really obnoxious about anything they’d probably shun me.

    Let’s face it, there are worse things in life than having people argue with you. It goes with the territory when you hold unorthodox political beliefs. But as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the work it’s all good.

  14. Wow. My first thought at reading joe’s comment at the top was the he was trolling, just making an absurd and confrontational statement to get a rise out of all cranky conservatives on the board. Do you honestly believe that, joe?

    “We’re talking about people with advanced degrees, who spend their lives pursuing the truth.”

    You’ve had some post-graduate education, right? Was it your really experience that your colleagues were motivated by the pursuit of truth in areas of their lives outside of their academic work (I mean more so than the average “joe”)? I finished by PhD in evolutionary biology a couple months ago. Most of my experience with academics has been in biology, then to a lesser extent other scientists and non-scientists. And I can assure you that, while the academics I knew may have been occupied “pursuing the truth” in their particular field (to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the person), that says very little about their willingness to pursue the truth in other areas, including politics.

    I’m sure there are a lot of theories why academics are so skewed to the left politically; I can think of several plausible explanations, but I don’t have any idea if there’s any truth to them. But in my opinion it is most definitely not because academics are on some heroic pursuit of the truth in all things and this has led them to liberalism.

  15. They’re on a quest for grant money.

  16. It may very well be that academics are self-selected for left-liberalism, either for reasons joe cites or for whatever other reason. We’re all pissing in the wind about it in lieu of any research into the matter. The article addresses this issue in one place, where it says, “The researchers found a much higher share of Republicans among the nonacademic members of the scholars’ associations, which Professor Klein said belied the notion that nonleftists were uninterested in scholarly careers.” But I don’t understand what these scholars’ associations are or what these nonacademics are doing there, so I can’t critique the relevance of this point. Can someone help?

  17. Come on, Joe. Many schools in California have gone so far as to prevent flyers from being posted for the YCR or any other conservative group, and do all they can to prevent conservative intellectuals from even coming to campus to speak. Simply claim it’s “offensive” and it immediately no longer falls under their perverted definition of the 1st amendment. Champions of diversity, so long as that does not include diversity of ideas and opinions. Champions of free speech, so long as that speech does not involve any conflicting opinions or run the risk of “offending” somebody.

    I’m not on here to apologize for or justify much of what comes from the right, but the description you give to these academic liberals is rather amusing.

  18. I see from recent posts that joe was really serious. Let me just add to my last post that there are certain positions maintained by various republicans and democrats that they hold dogmatically, and anyone who questions those positions is then by default considered to be stupid, ignorant, evil, etc. I’m thinking of things like the drug war, “traditional” marriage, and the liberal media (for conservatives) or the drug war, certain types of gov’t social welfare, and the conservative media (for liberals), just to randomly name a few (insert your favorite dogma here). Some of the most rigidly politically dogmatic people I have ever known are liberal academics, and in my experience they are on average considerably more politically dogmatic than non-academics I’ve known, liberal or conservative.

  19. J,

    A biologist’s commitment to atheism wouldn’t give me any pause in hiring him.

    A biologist’s commitment to creationism would.

    The fact that a writing instructor be was committed to separation of church and state wouldn’t lead me to believe that he’s be unfair to students because of their religion.

    The fact that a writing instructor espoused a belief that the nation should be governed by Biblical Law would raise a red flag that he might not treat Muslim or atheist students fairly.

    A po mo history instructor who argued that all points of view are equally valid wouldn’t cause me suspect that he’s be unfair to students because of their beliefs.

    A Republican history instructor who argued that there is only one right way to look at the world would cause me to suspect that he might be unfair to students who argued from pov’s with which he disagreed.

    Am I totally off base here?

  20. Newflash: Most CEOs are Republican. So right now, liberal employees are discouraged from pursuing business careers, because they see very clearly that their bosses consider Democrats to be the enemy.

    Yup, still sounds ridiculous.

  21. fyodor,
    I believe these are associations of scientists and scholars that icludes those working in private industry, correct me if I’m wrong thoreau. So what this says to me is that if someone is going to go through all the b.s. to get a Ph.D, conservatives are more likely to want to get paid more for the trouble.

  22. Mo-

    Yep, basically people with Ph.D’s working in industry. Which constitutes the majority of Ph.D’s.

    I’m going to do a postdoc for a variety of reasons, but after that I plan to get a job in industry. I realize that industry has its own nonsense just like academia, but in industry they pay you handsomely to put up with other people’s nonsense. In academia they expect you to do it pro bono.

  23. Mo,

    Thanks for the info. If I understand you correctly, the cited discrepancy would seem to have little to say about the possibility of a self-selection bias.

    joe,

    Am I totally off base here?

    Yes and no. Your first point has merit, but even if I accept that Creationists are more prevelant among Republicans than among Democrats, I’m skeptical that there’s enough of a difference, particularly among those in hihger education, to explain differences in hiring decisions the way you describe. Your second point is debatable when compared to the possibility that liberal secularists may also be hostile to others’ POV, and my same reservation about Creationists applies to advocates of Biblical law. And on your third point I would strongly disagree, although partly because I believe you’re cherry-picking ways of describing the two groups that are not valid. Essentially, I don’t think the two schools of thought you caricature are inherently any more or less open-minded than the other.

  24. thoreau,

    As a former graduate student in history I can say that there was a segment of the department that was quite conservative; indeed, there are entire fields of history that predominatly conservative in my experience – for example, military history, the history of technology (especially anyone doing anything remotely “nuts and bolts” like – as opposed to cultural, etc. history of technology or technological systems), historians of early modern Europe (who have in large measure followed the anti-Marxist revolution that occurred in that field in the 1960s and 1970s), historians of the French revolution (similar anti-Marxist movement occurred there during the same time period), etc.

    The nature of academia is far more nuanced and complex than reductionists like Ronald Bailey and others would like to admit.

  25. There’s also the possibility that Ph.D’s who go into industry become more conservative as a result of their employment, while Ph.D’s who remain in academia remain liberal.

    Not saying the hypothesis has been proven, but it’s worthy of examination.

    Also, engineering students and faculty tend to be more conservative relative to physics and chemistry.

  26. In a separate study of voter registration records, Professor Klein found a nine-to-one ratio of Democrats to Republicans on the faculties of Berkeley and Stanford.

    Is it reductionism to find this data noteworthy? If conservatives are over-represented in some areas (and if this data is accurate, but you haven’t disputed that), then liberals must logically be even more over-represented than by the nine-to-one ratio in other areas! That there may be nuances within the data previously unstated does not detract from the overall picture nor its noteworthiness.

    That said, as I’ve implied already, I’m somewhat skeptical that this ratio, however remarkable, is proof of opprobrious discrimination. Self-selection, both before hiring and after as thoreau points out, may very well explain most or all of it.

  27. Joe,

    “The fact that a writing instructor be was committed to separation of church and state wouldn’t lead me to believe that he’s be unfair to students because of their religion.”

    Unless his singleminded insistence caused him to treat religious students poorly or assume they are less intelligent. Oh wait, that sounds like you…

    My scenario happens a lot more frequently in academia than the reverse. I am an agnostic who thinks religious people are pretty daft, but this much is obvious to me.

  28. Academics are risk averse. Eliminate tenure and you get rid of this selection criteria.

    Academics tend to be technocrats. They do not believe, as a whole, that the distributed intelligence of the market could POSSIBLY organize things better than they could on their chalkboards.

    To the extent that those who can’t do, teach, academics are often refugees from the marketplace.

    Finally, the essence of modern acadamia is not the persuit of untainted truth, but the positioning of ideas in a way that can be trademarked as uniquely the contribution of a given academy member.

  29. “Also, engineering students and faculty tend to be more conservative relative to physics and chemistry.”

    What discipline seems to have the most libertarian-leaning individuals?

  30. joe,

    I think there’s some partial truth in the examples you give, but also some stuff missing. First, a belief in creationism would certainly make things difficult for an evolutionary biologist (quite a revelation there), but not necessarily for some other biologists. There are in fact some well-known and respected molecular biologists who are devout creationists (I knew one and knew of another at the school where I got my PhD), but their work doesn’t address evolutionary questions that would cause any sorts of personal conflicts. It’s a very strange sort of intellectual multiple personality thing going on, but it happens (although presumably not too commonly).

    The fact that any instructor (writing or otherwise) would claim the US should be governed by Biblical Law would raise some understandable suspicions about his or her treatment of students. The same could also be said for instructors who espouse a sort of “militant” atheism in which religious people are considered dupes or weaklings (as a lot of folks here seem to feel). Not to say that this is the official dem party line (nor is governance by Biblical Law the official rep party line), but it is a position I encountered with an increased frequency among my academic colleagues relative to non-academics.

    And finally, a history professor who dogmatically insists on a specific world view or view of history would indeed be a poor instructor. I just don’t see any reason to think such a person would be more likely to be a republican than a democrat. And in fact there are some glaring examples of dogmatic historical revisionism among liberal academics, some of which have been discussed in Reason or on H&R.

    I guess I go back to a point I made earlier – in my experience academics (who are overwhelmingly liberal) on average tend to be more dogmatically rigid than non-academics when it comes to politics. I don’t think this is a function of their liberalism; I think it probably has more to do with the insular academic environment.

  31. Now that I have read the article I can see that that Ronald Bailey left out something important in the title to his write-up, and he failed to correct it in the write-up itself:

    One of the studies, a national survey of more than 1,000 academics, shows that Democratic professors outnumber Republicans by at least seven to one in the humanities and social sciences.

    So we aren’t talking about “academia” as a whole (as Bailey implies), we’re talking about the humanities and social sciences.

    Furthermore, we have the issue that fyodor raised; that the other study merely looked at two universities (which is hardly a large enough sample size to mean anything).

    It seems to me that Bailey’s presentation of the article is not even remotely above board.

  32. What discipline seems to have the most libertarian-leaning individuals?

    Is there a department of science-fiction? 🙂

    I would guess maybe economics followed by philosophy, and then maybe the engineering field that most attracts techno-geeks? Somehow, I doubt there’s been any research done on this one!

  33. To sum up:

    The true conclusions one can take from the studies are this:

    (1) Democrats *may* outnumber Republicans in the fields of the humanities and social science (as far as professors are concerned) – I’d like to see the actual study before I conclude that I believe that or not.

    (2) Democrats outnumber Republicans (as far as professors are concerned) at Berkeley and Stanford.

    Doesn’t quite fit Bailey’s agitprop.

  34. I would guess maybe economics followed by philosophy, and then maybe the engineering field that most attracts techno-geeks? Somehow, I doubt there’s been any research done on this one!

    Libertarians in philosophy? Ha ha! Has it been a while since you were near a philosophy dept.?

  35. fyodor,

    I dunno, I’ve met my fair share of libertarian and conservative historians, but most of them are in the areas of History of Technology, Military History and the French Revolution.

  36. fyodor,

    Its in fields like Caribbean history, Africa history, Latin American history, etc., that you get large portions of leftists. Just go to any “Atlantic Studies” conference (and I find the idea of Atlantic Studies to be neat, etc. – trying to draw together a unified narrative of the Atlantic cultures, etc.) and you’ll see what I mean.

    Buut you’re still going to find lots of fairly conservative scholars studying tradtional fields like political history (e.g., the history of the Whig Party, etc.).

  37. Joe says, “… eliminated everyone whose beliefs interfere with free inquiry and academic quality…”

    That really depends on your particular ideas about which beliefs interfere with free inquiry.

    Some examples:

    * I researched a paper comparing the attitudes of industry leaders and politicians towards the Spanish-American War. It is an article of faith among liberal American historians that this war happened as a natural outcome of greedy warmongering capitalists seizing control of the body politic. My contention: if capitalists wanted this war, industry leaders would have supported it. Primary source research (major newspapers of the time) showed that, in fact, industry leaders were almost all *against* the war, and it was the politicians who were aggressively pushing it, over objections from the business community.

    My (union-organizing, Marxist) professor claimed I had done insufficient research. My grade: C.

    * I wrote a paper based on articles published by the Royal Society of London during the period of Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland. My contention was that the invasion was part of a larger effort to dehumanize the Irish — to create a public perception of the Irish as animals. The RS articles talked in detail about how the Irish should be bred out of existence — that their women should all be enslaved and brought to England for interbreeding with lower-class Englishmen, and the men should all be kept in similar slavery in Ireland until their lines died out.

    My (Anglophile) professor told me that I had not used sufficient primary source material. My grade: C.

    I’ve also had the pleasure of being mocked for believing that America has the most just and fair system of government that has yet been implemented; I’ve gotten derision for disagreeing with a professor (now the department chair!) who contended that Greece stole all its philosophical and scientific ideas from Sub-Saharan Africa; I’ve been laughed at for suggesting that alcoholism among Native Americans was not, in fact, a malicious policy decision by European colonizing powers — and for suggesting that the Spanish were preferable to the Aztecs.

    Don’t assume that just because an academic agrees with *you*, and thus never stifles *your* ideas, that they do not stifle the ideas of those they *do* disagree with.

  38. isildur-

    How do we know you aren’t a bad writer?

  39. isildur,

    I’ve been laughed at for suggesting that alcoholism among Native Americans was not, in fact, a malicious policy decision by European colonizing powers…

    I am afraid that at least in some instances you are wrong; many of the official government trading posts on reservations, etc., purposefully sold Indians liquor as a policy to cloud their judgment. As with most things historical, its a mixed bag.

    Anyway, I’ve aired very controversial views in papers in the past – such as directly arguing against the primary thesis of a professor’s entire career – and never got that sort of grief.

  40. Those who would instantly cry discrimination should first look at the facts. At UC Berkeley, where I am a grad student in math, Dems ountnumber Repubs 10:1 (159 to 16) in the “Hard Sciences and Math”, according to Klein’s voter reg study, which is almost exactly the same ratio as the across-the-board totals (445 to 45).

    It is totally implausible that this could have anything to do with political discrimination since in most cases there does not semm to be any way the admissions board could know anything about a faculty applicant’s politics, let alone consider it as a factor in the evaluation.

    While Berkeley might in general attract more liberals because it has something of a “reputation”, in the hard sciences and math it is known not for politics but for having among the biggest and best departments in the world, if not the biggest and best.

  41. To the extent that those who can’t do, teach, academics are often refugees from the marketplace.

    I have to take issue with this. In my last year of grad school I’ve made 2 career moves. The first was to moonlight as an optics instructor at a local photography college. The second was to spend several months on a consulting project for a chemical company. (They wanted me to figure out if I could reduce the amount of light scattered by their materials, and I have produced computational and theoretical results showing that you can’t do all that much to reduce scattering in their materials.)

    I have to say that I’ve learned a hell of a lot from teaching optics to photographers. Everything I thought I knew has been subject to careful re-examination, because I have to explain it without math. In the process I’ve learned a lot about basic optics as well as a lot about photography. In order to teach it you have to understand the subject and the applications inside and out. Otherwise students will see right through you.

    Indeed, teaching has even aided me in my project for the chemical company. Part of it came from having to think more deeply about things like anti-reflection coatings and scattering. Also, having to explain optics to artistically-inclined people got me to think much more carefully about why things look the way they do, and aided me in explaining things to the chemist I’ve collaborated with (he’s trying to change the way his materials look, basically).

    Anybody who thinks that college teaching is for the people who don’t know what they’re doing has obviously never taught a college class. Sure, there are incompetent people teaching in colleges. But take a look in the cubicle next to you before you tell me that all the incompetents are in academia. If you want to do a good job as a teacher, you need to be highly competent in your field.

  42. Another thing: The photographers whom I teach with are accomplished professionals. And some of the best physics professors at my university were in industry before returning to academia.

  43. “But take a look in the cubicle next to you before you tell me that all the incompetents are in academia.”

    I did not explicitly sat this, and I didn’t mean to imply anything of the sort. Note the ‘to the extent’ leading the assertion. Also note that I said that academics falling into this category are refugees from the marketplace, not that they are ignorant of their fields. The suggestion is that those who dislike the implications of a market may have various reasons for their feelings beyond the persuit of truth.

  44. It is totally implausible that this could have anything to do with political discrimination since in most cases there does not semm to be any way the admissions board could know anything about a faculty applicant’s politics, let alone consider it as a factor in the evaluation.

    I find Hadayn’s naivete about faculty politics to be touching. I would suggest that he run the tenure track before assuming that there is no way that an academic’s fellows could know anything about his or her politics. Not to mention the risible assumption that even if they knew, they wouldn’t consider it a factor.

    University faculties are self-selecting to a very large degree. Many departments are now populated by people who believe the personal is political, and that a large part of their mission is to inculcate the proper social ideas and attitudes into their charges. As a result, your average leftist professor sees it as his duty to ensure that new professors fit the mold.

  45. …along with kicking puppies, burning flags, and converting children to homosexuality.

    Go peddle that shit to the freepers, Gil.

    I’ve seen the following theory in National Review about why there are more leftists in academe (along with the whole “Tenured Radicals” creed): modern literary departments are enamoured with post-modern critical techniques. Traditional text-centered and canonical reading is out of favor, and applicants who are oriented towards these techniques correlate closely with political conservatives. I think they should be applauded for drawing an incisive, nuanced conslusion where a blunt, self serving, less accurate conflation of terms was so readily available.

  46. My liberal sociology professor taught us that black people actually do stink but it’s whitey’s fault for keeping ’em poor and forcing them to eat all that lousy food. If they had decent food they wouldn’t stink.

    He also taught us that Jews really were obnoxious but they were forced by societal roadblocks to be obnoxious to get ahead so it wasn’t their fault.

    My American Government teacher spent the entire semester preaching Jeremy Rifkin and ridiculing the students for having radios in their rooms and central heat in their houses. He also gave extra credit for anyone who rode the train to school.

    My Eastern Civ instructor was great except she wouldn’t let me do extra credit to bring my grade up from a B + to an A. Had I been sporting a D + and wanted to bring it up to a C she would have been accomodating. Equality for all, right?

  47. R.C. Dean,

    Having spent a portion of my life in academia I would have to say that your statement is about as honest as Ronald Bailey’s was; not very.

    TWC,

    Where the fuck did you people go to school? Temple?

  48. I think they should be applauded for drawing an incisive, nuanced conslusion where a blunt, self serving, less accurate conflation of terms was so readily available.

    As it turns out, one such blunt, self serving, less accurate explanation can be found in the very first post on this thread.

  49. I have an undergraduate degree in history and am currently working on a graduate degree in history and can say from personal experience that the majority of professors I’ve had are and were quite liberal. That being said, most were open minded enough to at least entertain various points of view and not hold it against you so long as you are able to support your position.

    Overtime though I’ve had several who were among the most narrowminded idiots on the planet. I had an anthropology instructor who claimed that the Stalin’s purges only killed a few thousand people. I also had one professor who didn’t like a book review of mine and call me narrow minded. While this may have been the case (it really is a he said, he said issue), another professor did refer to him as, “an angry young man.”

    To get a view of some of the poor teaching done by liberals please click on over to
    http://noindoctrination.org/
    and read a few listings, sure some of these could be sour grapes but the amount of posts does suggest some pattern.

    Finally, Joe your posts suggest very strongly that those of the liberal nature are more open minded and tollerant. It has been my experience that the opposite is true. There are so few conservative professors that they lack the support if any allegations are raised. Thus, I’ve sat in several classes were students have spouted things that were factually incorrect, rhetorically incoherent, and frequently just plain wrong. The reaction among liberal professors was frequently to lambast the student and rididicule their statement. The reaction among conservative faculty has been to lead the student through their thoughts gently pointing out errors and leading them through a socratic questioning to more reasonable and accurate though still left leaning conclusions.

    In short the conservative professors tended to be better teachers.

    Regards

    Joe Dokes

  50. Well, for a thread that started out with – via the write-up – some silly reductionism and irrational loathing it has devolved into exactly those things.

  51. Gilbert Martin’s statement, and joe’s snide reply (“kicking puppies…”) remind me of a snippet from the Onion last week:

    Liberals Return To Sodomy, Welfare Fraud

    BERKELEY, CA?No longer occupied by the 2004 election, liberals across the country have returned to the activities they enjoy most: anal sex and cheating the welfare system. “I’ve been so busy canvassing for the Democratic Party, I haven’t had a single moment for suckling at the government’s teat or no-holds-barred ass ramming,” said Jason Carvelli, an unemployed pro-hemp activist. “Now, my friends and I can finally get back to warming our hands over burning American flags and turning kids gay.” Carvelli added that his “number-one priority” is undermining the efforts of freedom-loving patriots everywhere.

  52. Jason, it was a while ago at Fullerton College Ca.

    My bonehead biology teacher was great though. A hippie surfer whose sole interest was genetics and chicks, who he insisted should smell like Liquidamber trees in bloom. What a ride that class was. It was tough too-my C in bonehead bio aka genetics 101 was a gift.

    Thorow: That was wickedly funny…..

    My wife taught in the Cal State system for a while. Most of those folks live in a world the rest of us simply don’t understand.

    Hey, Nick’s wife teaches in the university system, let’s ask her….

  53. “..or “The DaVinci Code,” or whatever the latest fad is among the “enlightened elite.”

    Mitch. Classic

  54. thoreau,

    Don’t know if this thread is dying, but I’m curious about your grad school experience. Just finished my grad work in biology, and I also never felt looked down upon because of my libertarian beliefs (except by one guy who insisted libertarians were “pothead republicans”, but the general consensus was that he was a huge prick). However, the very few truly conservative colleagues I knew generally tried to avoid political discussions, but when they got involved they were either treated like they had a disease, or like they belonged to some primitive tribe wth quaint but absurd customs and beliefs.

    I’ve often wondered if there are more conservatives in academia (specifically in science) who just keep their mouths shut; there are certainly a good number of folks who don’t really get too involved in political discussions. The ones that do take part are overwhelmingly liberal, but I don’t know if the ones that don’t are conservative or just don’t want to take part in the big liberal circle-jerk that those conversations so often are.

    So do you have any conservative colleagues, and if so how are they treated? My brother got his PhD in plasma physics several years ago, and he now works for DOE. He gradually became more conservative through his graduate and subsequent work (I think I’ve probably become more liberal; maybe he has a strong personality and I’ve got a weak one…), to the point where the sonuvabitch even voted for W, although he lives in DC so it couldn’t have conceivably mattered. I’m sure he didn’t shy away from any political discussions, and I never heard him complain about being ostracized for it. But I could certainly see it happening….

  55. I’m not convinced that discrimination plays a large role in explaining Democratic dominance in academia, but I suppose it’s possible. (I like Robert Nozick’s explanation better.)

    It will be interesting to see how many people on the left find the discrimination theory persuasive. After all, leftists are always telling me that “underrepresentation” of women and minorities in a profession is ipso facto proof of discrimination in hiring.

  56. I got my BA and MA at private schools in big cities and found the profs to be pretty nonpolitical. The ones working on policy issues usually had pretty libertarian leanings.

    Now I’m getting my PhD in a Public Institution in a college town surrounded by a sea of red. And these people are outragous. In one of the classes I’m taking, just about every other lecture there’s some cartoon of Bush acting like a chimp. He spent his election day lecture surfing websites with exit polls and gloating about Kerry winning. Whenever I talk to my advisor he somehow relates what we’re talking about to something evil the Republicans have done — today he went off about Bush buying Florida. My wife’s program is similar. Last week a professor giving a seminar put up slides about Bush banning speech (which has nothing to do with the field).

    I can’t imagine somebody ever doing any obnoxious libertarian or conservative stunts like these without being torn apart.

    Of course, I’m in a fairly conservative field: economics. Perhaps the reason that the profs at the private schools were a lot more moderate was because they had the ability to do some consulting and interacting with the local business community. Their spouses have the ability to work outside of academia. The public institution, however, is totally removed from the real world. Private industry in this town is limited to the bars and shops. Everybody who is married is married to other academics.

  57. joe: I teach economics. I’m a big, fat, capitalist pig.

    You’re the student. You believe in heterox economics.

    Do you fear that I will treat you fairly?

    For context this is your statement that leads me to ask.

    The fact that a writing instructor espoused a belief that the nation should be governed by Biblical Law would raise a red flag that he might not treat Muslim or atheist students fairly.

    Since economics is treated as science, but effectively revolves around majority opinion, would the Marxist have to fear improper judgement by a Capitalist equal to the Muslim fearing the judgement of the Christian?

  58. J-

    I admit to not knowing many openly conservative grad students at my school, but I actually do most of my after-hours socializing with people outside of grad school. However, the 2 guys who sort of persuaded me that I’m really a libertarian are both grad students in my department, and they’ve fared just fine. A few people find them kind of weird, but they are in fact kind of weird.

    There’s a Christian fundamentalist in my building that a lot of people whisper about, but that’s more because he’s broken a lot of very expensive lab equipment.

    I do have a very good friend who’s a very conservative Republican in the history department at another school. His first year of grad school he felt pretty oppressed. He hadn’t felt that way as an undergrad, and he’s doing his Ph.D work at the same school where he got his BA. I think it’s because grad students have much more exposure to departmental politics. And the first year of grad school is where you take your required courses (it’s harder to avoid certain professors) and go to all of the politically correct orientation sessions (in TA training they tell you to treat all students as individuals, and that this will be especially important for minority students because minority students have special needs, and yes I realize how contradictory that is).

    After that, however, he found his circle of friends and a very fair-minded thesis committee, and took courses from the more reasonable profs, and now he doesn’t worry anymore. Apparently the really obnoxious people who will ruin a conservative student’s career are a vocal minority in his department, and once he knew he wouldn’t have to take their courses or have them on his committee he stopped worrying.

  59. thoreau,

    That was my experience in graduate school; a vocal minority of liberals (10-15% of the department). Of course we also had a couple of die-hard Christian fundamentalists in our department too who were more than willing to tell you that you are going to hell. Let me reiterate that academia is far more nuanced than folks like Bailey are willing to admit. Hell, the most liberal law professor I have right now is an adjunct whose primary job is working with businesses on UCC work.

  60. Y’know, just to offer a little anecdotal counterweight: I found profs at NYU were indeed mostly liberal, but I never found this to be a problem. If anything, it helped me sharpen my thinking on various subjects. I ended up doing my senior philosophy thesis (on “political libertarianism”) under the author of Living High and Letting Die (which argues that failure to give your income above subsistence level to unicef is morally equivalent to personally killing Ethiopian babies) and the co-author of The Myth of Ownership (which title speaks for itself). Needless to say, they were out of sympathy with my point of view, but their comments were helpful and their grading fair.

  61. I should clarify that the overwhelmingly liberal political skew in my graduate program never created serious any problems for me or anyone else I was aware of in professional areas. About the worst things that happened were political jokes in departmental seminars and departmental e-mails that were probably inappropriate (but often fairly funny). It was more on a personal interactions level, and the enlightened liberal attitude was much more patronizing than aggressive or mean. I don’t know how it plays out in things like tenure decisions, but I have no reason to think it’s an issue.

  62. my wife is a rare bird – she’s politically liberal but textually conservative, har har . pursuing her phd in english literature at fordham, which is filled with a little less theory than other places. the theory stuff bothers her not because of her politics, but because she loves books, and watching people use books as a springboard to talk about their pet projects fundamentally hurts her.

    i’ve only had one “politically related” problem in any college class, from a gender studies/media studies type woman who just didn’t like me much in the first place. the political stuff on top was extra dressing, i think.

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